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‘There is no city anymore’: Fleeing Mariupol residents describe destruction

Ukrainians escaping from the besieged city of Mariupol, along with other passengers from Zaporizhzhia, arrive at Lviv, western Ukraine, on March 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Ukrainians escaping from the besieged city of Mariupol, along with other passengers from Zaporizhzhia, arrive at Lviv, western Ukraine, on March 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian survivors of one of the most brutal sieges in modern history are in the final minutes of their train ride to relative safety.

Some carry only what they had at hand when they seized the chance to escape the port of Mariupol during relentless Russian bombardment. Some fled so quickly that relatives who were still in the starving, freezing Ukrainian city on the Sea of Azov are not aware that they have gone.

“There is no city anymore,” Marina Galla says. She weeps in the doorway of a crowded train compartment that is pulling into the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Even as they finally fled Mariupol, aiming to reach trains heading west to safety, Russian soldiers at checkpoints made a chilling suggestion: It would be better to go to the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol or the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula instead.

Mariupol authorities say nearly 10 percent of the city’s population of 430,000 have fled over the past week.

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